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Trick-or-Treating: Yes, They Can!

By Dr. Breanne Hartley, BCBA-D

With Halloween coming next week, many parents who are affected by autism may be hesitant to have their children participate in the traditional trick-or-treating festivities.

Many parents I work with at Little Star Center have shared that they want nothing more than for their children to “just be a kid” and participate in all of the fun activities. However, their hesitancy often stems from uneasiness that their child may be too overwhelmed by the whole process of getting dressed into a foreign costume, and having several social interactions with each ring of a new doorbell.

However, don’t ever think “my child can’t do this.” Your child can do this!

Even if it doesn’t appear that your child shows any interest in Halloween festivities, (possibly like your other children, who have been extremely excited to wear their costume for the past several weeks) you can teach your child with autism how fun Halloween really can be. You can do this using an Applied Behavior Analytic teaching method, called pairing (which is the behavioral word for “associating”). The one part of the trick-or-treating festivities that truly makes it Halloween, is wearing a costume. In order to get your child prepared for strolling the neighborhood in costume, start providing some learning opportunities ahead of time. Several days before Halloween, begin dressing your child in their costume, while simultaneously allowing him to play with his favorite toy or eat his favorite snack. At first, just short periods of time of wearing the costume will be sufficient just to get your child accustomed to wearing something different. During that first time, glance at the clock and determine approximately how long your child tolerated having their costume on before they began to tug at it and want it off. This time period will tell you how long to keep it on the next time.

If the first occurrence was a time period of two minutes, then make a mental note to take the costume off at about one minute and 30 seconds the next time. You don’t want you’re your kiddo to exceed his or her limit. Then, over time, with continued practice, gradually increase the amount of time that you keep the costume on. Just remember to “pair” fun things (toys, snacks, movies) with wearing the costume, each and every time. Eventually, your child may begin to learn that Halloween and dressing up in a costume can be quite enjoyable.

Happy trick-or-treating!

Dr. Breanne Hartley is a clinical director at Little Star Center. 

For Immediate Release, Little Star Center Lafayette to open March 15th – Official Press Release here.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:         Amanda Ryan

Community Outreach & Marketing Director

317.249.2242

[email protected]

Little Star Center Announces Opening of New Lafayette Location

Non-profit autism center will be the first of its kind in the Lafayette Area

CARMEL, IN, February 15, 2011 – Little Star Center, a non-profit center for children with autism, is pleased to announce the opening of a new center in Lafayette, IN. The center will open its doors on March 15, 2011. Their location in Carmel was the first in the state, opening in 2002. This stand alone center – located at 3922 Mezzanine Drive, can be quickly accessed from IN-26, making it an easy to reach location for all Lafayette area commuters.

Little Star Center chose the Lafayette area for its new location due to the need for autism services. “After holding multiple community interest meetings, attending local autism events and support group meetings, the choice was easy. The need for services is great in the area and we are excited to get up there and help with that need,” says Mary Rosswurm, Executive Director of Little Star Center.

Based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Little Star provides an atmosphere where children, therapists and families can interact, support each other and receive on-going training so that each child can reach their full potential at home and in a variety of settings outside of therapy. After decades of research, the United States Surgeon General has endorsed intensive behavioral intervention for individuals with autism as the treatment of choice. Over 40 years of research documents the efficacy of ABA in reducing inappropriate behavior and increasing communication and learning.

About Little Star Center

We believe we are a truly unique and special place for children and families. Little Star allows families to have the best of both worlds – the intense one-on-one personalized therapy that you used to only be able to find in a home program and the community feel of a center based program that gives your child access to peers, materials and a beautiful facility. Families are an integral part of their child’s programming along with our staff of professionals. Little Star prides itself on having a “family first” philosophy. For more information please call 317.249.2242 or visit us on the web at www.littlestarcenter.org.

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